Newark water distribution delayed after discovery it was expired

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An effort to provide free bottled water to Newark residents whose drinking water was contaminated by lead was delayed when the water being given out was found to be expired.

Dozens of people lined up outside the Boylan Street Recreation Center Tuesday morning to receive a case of water. But when it was discovered that the bottles had expired the distribution was halted. Residents were told to come back by 3 p.m. to get their water.

The bottles had a sell-by date of May 2019. But the state health department says that the date is just a guideline and that the water is safe to drink.

About 38,000 Newark residents living within the Pequannock water service area are impacted by the lead contamination. The Environmental Protection Agency ordered the city to give out the bottled water after it was found that water filters given out by the city were not working properly.

RELATED: Newark residents given free bottled water due to lead contamination 
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Newark drinking water situation FAQ

The city set up four locations to get the water. But many residents told News 12 New Jersey that they were confused about where they had to go and who was eligible.

“We are very concerned, but what happens is the residents continue to get a mixed message and a lie from the administration and they don’t know what to believe or how to believe because we’re being bombarded with ‘this is what this is, that’s what this is,’” says community activist Donna Jackson.

Rose Crenshaw owns a home that she rents out to several families. She says that she was initially given a filter by the city.

"We thought that they were doing a good job. We were assured that they were going to clear the lead. But for now, the understanding that we’re getting is that it's not going to do that,” Crenshaw says.

Crenshaw came to pick up water for her tenants.

"We have residents where who have children, who are senior citizens who can't come to pick up the water. So I'm here to pick up water for my seniors in my building,” she says.

Many of the residents who spoke with News 12 New Jersey say that they have not considered changing their lead service lines, as the city suggested. Some said that they weren’t even aware that it was an option.

"My problem is this: We are paying for the water here so if we paying for water that we can't use, why are we paying?" asks Crenshaw

Free water expected to continue until further notice

Newark started sending Orthophosphate through its water treatment plant in Pequannock this May. This coats the pipes to keep the lead from releasing. But it is a process that takes months.

Gov. Phil Murphy will be in Newark Wednesday with Mayor Ras Baraka to tour on of the water distribution sites.

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